I’m a nationally published sleep expert, journalist, and the mom of three young kids. I’ve been helping tired families sleep since 2007 (more about me here). Subscribe to The Well Rested Family for fresh news and tips on keeping your bunch happy and healthy. Thanks for stopping by!

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Entries in dropping a nap (2)

Friday
Feb082013

Ask Malia: My toddler's naps are no-gos

I have been posting lots of nap questions lately, but well, you keep sending them! Here's another:

Hi Malia. I downloaded your first e-book and it has been incredibly helpful. After several months of terrible sleep, we have now had a full month of good rest for the whole family. It is amazing how much better we all feel when we are not sleep-deprived.

We now have a consistent schedule for naps and a nighttime sleep routine that works better for everyone. Instead of bouncing Henry to sleep in the Ergo, I now sit in a chair beside his crib and shush-pat the mattress until he falls asleep on his own. Plus, instead of waking up every 1-2 hours at night, he now wakes up once a night and sometimes even sleeps straight through from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Here’s my question: Arlo (12 months old) takes a very long time to fall asleep for naps. He takes two naps per day for a total of about 3 hours. When I would bounce him to sleep in the Ergo for naps it would take less than 15 minutes for him to fall asleep. Now that we are encouraging him to put himself to sleep in the crib, it takes 30-60 minutes. Some days, it even takes 90 minutes before he falls asleep on his own. Do you have any suggestions for how to encourage him to fall asleep more quickly in his crib?

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I’m so happy to hear about your success! And I do have suggestions for you. I think Arlo is starting down the long-ish road to dropping his morning nap. Fifteen months old is the average age for this, though babies can drop it anywhere from eight months to 24 months. Here's why I think he’s beginning to show  signs of the 2-1 nap switch: taking a long time to fall asleep at naptime and naps gradually getting later and later (i.e. waking from his last nap at 5 p.m., which pushes bedtime pretty late) are signs that he's beginning this transition.

Also, it's fairly common for naps to shift once a child starts sleeping more soundly at night, which Arlo has been doing. Especially for toddlers, who are beginning to need slightly less sleep than they did as infants anyway, starting to "sleep through the night" or even just sleeping more soundly with fewer awakenings at night fills up their sleep tank, so to speak, and they have less drive to sleep during the day. This can contribute to the nap resistance, along with his natural development and his age.

My article "Dropping a Nap Without Drama" may be helpful here. Essentially, you can either keep his morning nap at the same time each day and gradually shorten it until it's gone, or you can push it back so that the "morning" nap occurs at midday and the afternoon nap is more like a catnap. For Arlo's type of nap resistance, I recommend option 2.

I recommend pushing his morning nap later in 15 minute increments. I'd hesitate to make drastic changes to his sleep schedule because he is making big strides with his sleep and you're doing such a great job supporting his healthy sleep. I'd hate to see that progress get interrupted. Congratulations and keep it up!

I’m a nationally published sleep expert, health journalist, and mom. My articles about sleep, health, and parenting appear regularly in over 80 national and regional magazines and on television. Can I help you? Subscribe to The Well Rested Family to have sleep news, tips, and tactics delivered to your inbox or feed reader by clicking here.

Need more sleep? My e-book Ready, Set, Sleep: 50 Ways to Help Your Child Sleep So You Can Sleep Too is chock-full of mom-tested solutions to help babies and toddlers start sleeping well, tonight!

My new e-book Sleep Tight, Every Night: Helping Toddlers & Preschoolers Sleep Well Without Tears, Tricks, or Tirades is available now!

Monday
Jun042012

No more naps? Eight reasons to cheer.

Goodbye, nap!For some kids, it happens at as early as age two. For most, three or four is the magic age. A few hang on until five. But sooner or later, all kids do it: they give up their afternoon nap.

Parents of babies and toddlers are terrified of losing their child’s daily snooze—also known as their only chance to check email, shower, read, prep dinner, return phone calls, sleep, or just stare into space without a tiny person yanking at their arm.

But take heart. Leaving naps behind can be a positive step. Without a daily nap to work around, your family’s day opens up, along with new preschool possibilities, more sibling time, and less daily frustration. Your kiddo might sleep better at night, too.

Here are eight reasons to face the no-nap transition with no fear.

Sounder nighttime sleep

By the time kids hit the preschool years, many sleep better at night without a daily snooze. This is particularly true of kids who need less overall sleep than their peers. Without a daily nap, your tot will likely fall asleep faster and earlier at night, and possibly sleep later in the morning, too.

Extra flexibility in your routine

Need to spend an afternoon running errands? Want to linger over a late lunch? Tired of the morning crowds at the local park? Once your kid stops napping, there’s no need to rush home to get him in bed every afternoon—which opens up your schedule for all sorts of possibilities.  Anyone up for a matinee?

Family schedule-sync

Keeping noisy brothers and sisters from waking a napping younger sibling can be harrowing (“For the last time, BE QUIET! Your brother is NAPPING!”). When the younger child finally gives up napping, parents can finally surrender their “Quiet Police” badges.

No more doorbell dread

You know those cutesy signs that politely ask visitors not to ring the doorbell, because “Baby’s Napping?” They might as well be invisible. When you’ve got a snoozing baby, your doorbell is a magnet for everyone in the world, from chatty neighbors to gutter salesmen to magazine-selling teens. No nap means you’ll no longer fear the bell’s toll.

Farewell, frustration

Few things are more unnerving than trying—and failing—to get a rambunctious preschooler down for a nap, day after day. Struggling with a child who just won’t sleep is not fun. But once the nap bites the dust, you can kiss that defeating daily routine goodbye.

Easier room-sharing

In this recent article for ParentMap magazine, I extol the benefits of having kids bunk up. And a shared bedroom works much better when one sib isn't monopolizing the room each afternoon with a nap. When naps are history, both roommates are free to use the room all day long.

P.M. preschool

Saying goodbye to naps opens up a new world of preschool possibilities. Once your child is ready to stay awake all day, afternoon-only preschool is a great way to fill the long afternoon hours (bonus: no early-morning drop off!).

Ciao, car alarm

When you desperately want your tot to take her nap, the sight of her nodding off in her carseat is cause for alarm. A few minutes of carseat sleep kills an afternoon nap faster than you can say “No, sweetie, wait!” But when the nap is history, short carseat siestas are no big deal. In fact, they’re kind of nice. You might even take the long route home, just to savor your latte in peace.

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What about you? Were you bummed when your kiddo dropped the afternoon nap? Or did it ultimately make things easier?